European commission’s regulation of markets in crypto-assets. How MiCA (Markets in Crypto-assets) will affect opinion leaders
The European Commission’s regulation of markets in crypto-assets is coming. The EU is preparing to implement MiCA (Markets in Crypto-assets), a series of sweeping regulations that could seriously impact the crypto industry across Europe.
EU markets in crypto-assets regulation (MiCA) was finalized in September. In October, European Parliament officials voted 28 to 1 in favor of the bill, and it has one last vote to go.
The sweeping bill covers everything from stablecoin to cryptocurrency mining to NFT to money laundering. But it also has clauses that could affect crypto-influencers as well.
On Nov. 1, Circle’s director of EU strategy and policy, Patrick Hansen, drew attention to one such clause. He promises problems for opinion leaders who share their views on social media about certain crypto-assets. If it turns out that they profit from their actions, once MiCA takes effect, it will be considered market manipulation in the EU, Hansen noted.
The EU is planning a big cryptocurrency sweep.
Exactly which publications will fall under the new rules is not yet clear. Neither is how the initiative will be checked. But the list may even include memes, such as the dog picture that Elon Musk recently posted on his Twitter account.
Reaction to the proposal has also been mixed among European Parliament officials. But those who voiced support for it said that crypto-influencers’ activities should be more transparent.
Regulators believe it is a step forward that will make the region more attractive to the crypto industry. On Nov. 2, MiCA rapporteur Stefan Berger said the rules are necessary if “Europe wants to be a major player in the cryptocurrency game.”
Crypto industry under MiCA’s microscope
MiCA is going after DeFi hard in the name of consumer protection, but it looks more like an attempt to centralize and control all aspects of the cryptocurrency market.
The EU initiatives are also aimed at regulating Stablecoins and their issuance, and controlling crypto-asset service providers (CASPs). This could lead to the fact that only fully regulated exchanges and brokers can officially operate in Europe.
The bill also proposes introducing cryptocurrency cards to protect consumer rights, but MiCA’s real motivation is to prevent money laundering. To that end, the EU is seeking to bring the regulation of cryptocurrency companies in line with the same framework that regulates banks.
We previously reported that BTC is giving bitcoin holdings MicroStrategy a chance to get out of their losses.
Net Bitcoin ATMs record an increase after 4 months of global downtrend
The total number of crypto ATMs consistently declined in the first four months of 2023. During the timeframe, major economies like the United States contributed to the dwindling numbers, but Australia, Poland and Spain increased crypto ATM installations.
The chart above shows that, in the first four months of 2023, the net crypto ATMs worldwide declined by 5,850. In May, however, 1,397 machines were added back to the global crypto ATM network, confirming data from Coin ATM Radar.
While Bitcoin ATMs do not contribute to the growth of the Bitcoin network, it serves as a physical gateway for people to exchange their fiat currencies for crypto. In 2023 alone, Australia installed a total of 233 ATMs, climbing up the ranks to become the third-largest crypto ATM hub in the world.
Despite a poor year-long reduction, the United States maintains a leading position — representing 84.7% of crypto ATMs worldwide, followed by Canada at 7.6%.
At the time of writing, 35,069 ATMs remain operational worldwide. Recently, a hacker managed to access sensitive information of Bitcoin ATM manufacturer General Bytes, including passwords, private keys and funds.
“We have taken immediate steps to prevent further unauthorized access to our systems and are working tirelessly to protect our customers,” General Bytes said in its statement.
Previously hacker managed to drain at least 56 BTC and 21.82 ETH. To avoid a similar situation in the future, the company advised its operators and customers to migrate to a self-hosted server installation, which can be secured by a virtual private network.
Microsoft pens AI cloud computing deal with former Ethereum miner CoreWeave
Microsoft has reportedly signed a deal with former Ethereum miner CoreWeave to use its cloud computing infrastructure to support its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered services.
According to a June 1 report from CNBC, which cites “people with knowledge of the matter,” Microsoft is potentially set to spend billions of dollars on the deal with CoreWeave over multiple years.
One of CNBC’s sources claimed the deal was signed earlier in 2023.
Amid the rapid growth of AI tech over the past 12 months, Microsoft has rolled out several AI-powered services. A prime example is OpenAI’s GPT-4 integration with its web browsers Bing and Microsoft Edge, which the firm recently axed the waitlist for.
OpenAI also utilizes Microsoft’s own cloud computing infrastructure, Azure, to handle its sizable computing requirements.
CoreWeave started off as an Ethereum miner in 2017, utilizing graphics processing units (GPUs) to verify transactions on Ethereum during its formative days as a proof-of-work blockchain.
The firm started pivoting its focus to cloud GPU computing around 2019 after spotting a hole in the market for competitively priced, scalable and varied compute options — something it claimed legacy providers weren’t offering.
Notably, reports of the deal with Microsoft come just a few days after CoreWeave announced that it had extended its $221 million Series B funding round from April to bring the total to $421 million.
The Series B was led by Magnetar Capital, with participation from long-standing strategic partner Nvidia.
In April, the firm stated that the capital would be used to expand its cloud infrastructure, which is focused on a wide range of computational workloads such as AI, machine learning, visual effects and rendering — among others.
Commenting on the Microsoft deal via Twitter, Nic Carter, Bitcoin advocate and Castle Island Ventures general partner, highlighted the significance of the firm’s change of industry:
“Ppl make fun of ‘crypto to AI pivots’ but CoreWeave went from mining ETH to using their fleet to do compute for AI and now they’re worth $2b+… one of the fastest growing companies in the world right now.”
Six months on from FTX, Tether mines BTC, and Nvidia’s AI superchips
This week’s Crypto Biz looks at the crypto industry since the FTX collapse, Tether’s Bitcoin mining in Latin America, Tabi’s funding round and Nvidia’s artificial intelligence machines.
Just over six months after FTX’s dramatic collapse, the crypto industry can finally begin analyzing the effects of the debacle. The quick ripple effect to other crypto businesses drained liquidity from the industry and prolonged the crypto winter, with Silvergate Bank, BlockFi and Genesis Global Capital among those hit by the exchange’s collapse.
FTX’s bankruptcy has also affected the crypto regulatory landscape, with authorities cracking down on firms — employing controversial methods in some cases — to avoid a deepening blend of traditional finance with cryptocurrencies.
Companies that closed their United States operations citing regulatory pressure in the past months included Bittrex, Nexo and Unbanked, to name a few. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said this week that China stands to benefit most from restrictive crypto policies in the U.S., but only time will tell if this is true.
Companies are also reviewing their business operations due to increased regulatory scrutiny. In response to crypto firms being debanked, Binance has even considered buying a bank in the past months, said its CEO Chanpeng Zhao. Now, the crypto exchange is gearing up for a layoff that will boost its compliance and regulatory capabilities.
While the industry digests the recent events, FTX’s new management claims FTX 2.0 could be launched as soon as next year, hopefully in time to join the club of crypto companies striving to remain in business after November 2022.
This week’s Crypto Biz also looks at Tether’s Bitcoin mining operations in Latin America, Tabi’s funding round and Nvidia’s efforts to power the next generation of artificial intelligence (AI) machines.
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